Today we’re mixing up the Flame of Love for an important date in the Drunkard’s Almanac. On this day in 1917 the world welcomed Dino Paul Crocetti. Why does that matter, you ask? Well, you know him as Dean Martin. Yes, him. We’re talking Rat Pack here, palling around with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., tearing up Hollywood and Las Vegas.
Let’s face it. If you are looking for a Valentine’s Day drink this is the answer. What could be better for that than a cocktail named Flame of Love? And when it comes from a man who said “You’re not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on” we have a winner.
That’s important advice, from a man who should know. As Frank Sinatra noted, “If we ever develop an Olympic drinking team, [Dean’s] gonna be the coach.” We’re talking about men of accomplishment here. (By the way, for Sinatra’s birthday we covered his favorite drink.)
Dean Martin the Performer
Before we get to the Drink of the Day, let’s take a moment for some character history and context development. History wise, Martin really got his career breakthrough in 1946 after pairing up with fellow comedian Jerry Lewis. Nightclubs, television, film… the usual stuff. But that fell apart in 1956. Apparently the only thing the two had in common was supreme stubbornness and the split was apparently rather acrimonious.
Not to be defeated, Martin went on as a solo performer and actor. He was certainly known as a capable singer, and we’ll come back in a bit to “That’s Amore,” one of his famous songs. He was among the most popular acts in Las Vegas, and this is where he and his pals got into the Rat Pack hijinks. As Martin said, “If people want to think I get drunk and stay out all night, let ‘em. That’s how I got here, you know.” In truth, though, the “whiskey” he as drinking on stage was in fact apple juice, and he was a devoted family man who went home for dinner with his family. Nobody’s perfect.
But to get to the actual Drink of the Day we’re going to go to the other Rat Pack haunt: Hollywood and adjacent areas.
The Flame of Love Cocktail
Those of you who grew up in or frequented the Hollywood area before 1995 certainly knew of Chasen’s, a hangout for major league entertainers right on the edge of Beverly Hills. You name it: Marilyn Monroe, Jack Benny, Johnny Carson and hosts of others over decades. Strangely enough, drinking happened there too.
Now to get to today’s featured drink, we know that Martin was a whiskey fan. But instead of rolling out a simple glass of whiskey, we tie together both “That’s Amore” and Chasen’s. You see, Dean was a bar regular there and in 1970 the bartender Pepe Ruiz created a drink for Dean Martin. It was a hit, and the legend is that Frank Sinatra once ordered a round for everyone in the place. What is this drink? It is called the Flame of Love.
Before we get to the recipe, your faithful correspondent must make a public service announcement: this drink is vodka-based. We do not normally recommend vodka as a base spirit in cocktails, generally believing that anything vodka does gin can do better. But our honoree is so iconic, and the cocktail so appropriate, that we make an exception. And it should make anyone happy on Valentines Day as well.
Flame of Love
- 2 oz vodka
- ¼ oz fino sherry
- Several large orange peel strips
- Take your chilled cocktail glass and rinse with the fino sherry. Discard excess.
- While squeezing a strip of orange peel over the glass, use a match or lighter to flame the oils spraying into the glass, and repeat several times as each peel becomes spent.
- Add vodka to your mixing glass and stir with ice to chill, pour into cocktail glass
- Flame one more orange peel over the cocktail glass
- Queue up some Dean Martin tunes.